Yesterday, we spent the afternoon exploring the Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights areas of Queens. This area is near and dear to me since I lived in Elmhurst for my first four years in New York, and because of that, spent a good amount of time exploring these other three surrounding neighborhoods. The true glory of New York to me has always been its insanely diverse population of people. In a single neighborhood, particularly if you are in Queens, you could easily walk through it and hear over 20-30 different languages being spoken. And with a diverse group of people always comes a diverse array of cuisines and dishes that you can choose from. Because of this, I will always consider myself a Queens baby and have immense pride for having lived in Queens. And I obviously still come back to it all the time to eat and explore and find new delicious things.
In our afternoon of exploration, we had snacks at a Paraguayan restaurant, explored a few Filipino markets, purchased some fresh and jarred items to cook with at a local Thai grocery store with great prices, and ended in Woodside, where we ate at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in New York City — Ayada Thai. Until this day, Ayada has the best Thai fish, tom yum soup, and papaya salads I’ve ever eaten outside of Thailand, and they do NOT shy away from the heat – you will leave sweating and borderline in pain!
I was pleasantly surprised to see how two blocks in this area were completely blocked off from car traffic and set up completely for spacious outdoor dining, complete with overhangs to shade from the sun and lots of hand sanitizing stations. I felt so happy to see this; these quiet little Woodside/Elmhurst streets had been fully transformed in a positive way that they weren’t even fully recognizable to me at the beginning. They felt so warm and inviting, charming, cozy and fun. A huge feeling of pride came over me; my old neighborhood is just killing it during COVID-19. I really hope these delicious family-owned businesses can survive this pandemic. It will be a total loss to our city and our stomachs if they do not.